World Castle Publishing
Published: July 15, 2011
Trade Paperback, 269 pages
Reviewed by Sandra
This historical novel is set in the Victorian era, in the early days of the long rule of Queen Victoria. The young Queen herself plays a minor role in the story.
The heroine, Emma, is a twenty-something woman who has been elevated from her life as a well-loved servant to that of companion to aristocrat, the Countess of Holmeshire. Having been sent away for a few months to be trained in the appropriate manners and dress of upper crust society of the day, she now assumes her new role with some trepidation. She is to enter “Society.” In class-conscious 19th-century England she worries about her reception at the great houses – will a lower-class individual be accepted or shunned?
Lord Holmeshire, son of the Countess, is conscious of the great divide between rich and poor and wants to improve the lot of the desperately poor. Seemingly, Emma is a tool to be used to raise the collective social conscience of the rich. The reason for her elevation and presentation to aristocratic society is explained as “they (aristocratic society) must be introduced to someone of a lower class, to have to be seen with and made to talk to someone to become conscious of them all, to come to recognize them as worthy humans in need.”
But who is Emma really? And who are the three curious individuals, husband, wife and father-in-law, lurking in the background? Are they somehow connected to Emma? All is revealed with the fairy-tale ending - love, romance, and happy-ever-after!
I found the novel slow-moving and the development of the storyline somewhat awkward at times. However, the author does succeed in evoking a bygone era with her descriptions of houses and manners and clothes of the time. I could imagine myself walking through the fern-filled, portrait-laden corridors of a mansion on my way to the Drawing Room or the Sitting Room in fine dress! Also, her description of the social climate, including the “workhouses” that the poor were often put into is very educational.
All in all, for a first novel, it is quite readable.
Disclosure: Thanks to Debra Brown for sending me this book for review. I was not compensated in any other way, nor told how to rate or review this product.